29 May 2011

wow... that whole hispanic debate again...

don't you hate it when people are stupid and just don't realise it?

so, pbs did this somewhat unwatchable [i'll explain why in a minute] series on black in latin america. my friend fly-brother critiqued the first two episodes here and here [mijo, nos debes dos criticas más...]. in the first post, a "person" [i use this term in quotes because this guy can't be real] rants on some really bizarre tangents. he also talks, at length, about why hispanics are a separate race.

now, anyone who knows me personally would by now see where i just might have a teeny problem with that last bit. but then this "person" comes on my page and gets butthurt that i won't debate him [because i've been too busy raising children, but anyway], but today i've finally had some free time to look up his points.

and boy are they some doozies.

now, the easiest way to completely shut him down is summed up by the next few paragraphs:

i did the majority of my formal education in central pennsylvania, known to much of the rest of the states as "amish country" -- many schools that teach german in school don't teach the high german pronunciations taught in germany and german government-sponsored schools worldwide, but the swiss-german forms from which the misnamed "pennsylvania dutch" [pennsilfaanisch deitsch translates as "pennsylvania german"] is descended.

the amish, for those who don't know, are an anabaptist sect mainly known for still dressing and living as if it's the 18th century. an interesting about the amish is their viewpoint about people who are not-amish: everyone not-amish is "english". i bring this up because in central pennsylvania, and especially in places which could be called the "amish american homeland", most people are of the same swiss-german stock as the amish. and yet, they are still called "english".

this is, of course, a bit daft on the face of it. there are a few people in those parts who are not of swiss-german ancestry, and there are some black and "hispanic" people. but, at the 2000 census, pennsylvania had more non-hispanic white people than any state except california, new york, texas, and florida -- all states with substantially more people in general. if you look at the 2000 census, you will see that in the year i graduated high school, 1990, pennsylvania was 88.5 percent white. even at 2000, it's 85.4 percent white. maybe 2010 will have it go below 80% for the first time ever, but i doubt it.

but it doesn't matter. the amish call all of them "english" -- without taking differences into croatian or polish catholics, russian, serb or ukrainian orthodox, or any other group. they're just "english" and that is that. they don't take into consideration someone who is half-black, half-greek, or the guy in front of them in line at the weis markets in the town where i attended undergrad that originally is from west bengal. not-amish = english, that is that.

now, if this guy wants to continue to argue the point that he has the mindset of someone stuck in the early 18th century, more power to him. but, you know, many people with actual brains would be like, "nah, that's too big of a mental jump to make". don't get me wrong, there are a LOT of people in latin america who would wish they were white -- the whole concept of "mejorar la raza" is all about lightening the line to get rid of any obvious black or indian features.

in short, "hispanic" is as much of a "race" as "north american" is -- fly-brother is right in saying "um, no, hispanic is not a race" but is a bit wrong in his retort, as he is [incorrectly] more specific by comparing it to "african-american". the best comparison is "american" and leaving it at that, but i do understand the point he was trying to move by being more specific.

oddly enough, my brazilian visa obtained in cape town actually has "north-american" as my nationality. [fly-brother, does yours?] i vaguely remember my last brazilian visa stating my nationality as "americano". maybe the next one will say, "estadunidense" -- i guess we'll find out in about ten years' time.


now i found much of the pbs series largely unwatchable largely because of skip gates. sometimes i think he's either just stuck on stupid, naive, or both -- and, to me, it was on clear display throughout the whole series. there were some nuances that i'm sure he didn't pick up, not having grown up in such environments -- my favorite of those was when he's in brazil and he's got his hand out with a bunch of other men and he's like "we're all a different colors" and the guy who's approximately the same shade has him goes "moreno" in a tone of voice that totally indicated "why the fuck are you trying to call yourself, and by definition me, black?" this particular scene is in the preview to the series, so you can peep it here without going through the whole brazilian episode. a photo of that very scene that i've just described is next to the teaser for "brazil, a racial paradise?" -- the answer to which, by the way, is "no" for reasons that i touched on here.

i'm going to try, again, to watch the last two "black in latin america" shows this evening. i know i'm going to have a tough time with the brazilian one; maybe i should start with the mexico/peru one instead.

if i'm able to watch them, i'll post my opinions of them later on. on verra.


Cheap flights to Nairobi said...

now, the easiest way to completely shut him down is summed up by the next few paragraphs

Anonymous said...

Wow. It's better to remain silent and let people think you're a fool than to open one's mouth and prove it.

Hispanic (hɪˈspænɪk)

— adj
1. relating to, characteristic of, or derived from Spain or Spanish-speaking countries

There is no hispanic "race".